Freezers

What to look for when buying a standalone freezer.

20feb freezers hero

Buying food in bulk can help save money, but you need a good freezer when it comes to storing your perishables long term.

Our test results will show you the top-performing models. Plus, we’ve covered the features you should consider when buying a freezer.

We’ve also tested freezers for temperature performance, warm-up and cool-down time, and much more. Learn about how we test freezers.

Chest or vertical?

There are two types of freezers: upright/vertical, which looks similar to a standard fridge, and chest, which has a hinging lid on top. Choosing your ideal type requires more than considering if it’ll keep your food cold.

Upright/vertical

20feb freezers plp stand freezer1

Pros:

  • easy to see and access food
  • drawers and shelves for organising food
  • most are frost-free
  • small footprint.

Cons:

  • not as good at keeping consistent temperature
  • more expensive to buy.

Chest

20feb freezers plp chest freezer1

Pros:

  • available in larger sizes (500L+)
  • better overall temperature performance
  • cheaper to buy.

Cons:

  • limited storage options (such as baskets)
  • can be awkward reaching for food in the bottom
  • usually requires manual defrosting
  • takes up more space
  • quicker to warm up during a power cut.

Vertical freezers interior layout

Vertical freezers are available with shelves or drawers which are easier to access. Shelves allow you to open the door and easily see what’s there. Some have extending telescopic runners, but check how easily they roll, their weight capacity and whether they have a lip at the front, sides and back to stop food falling out when you move them.

Sliding drawers may take up more potential storage space than shelves, but they make it easier to access food (check they slide smoothly). Some have opaque fronts, so you might need to label what’s in them to make finding things easier.

What else to consider

  • Controls: Most freezer temperature controls should be regularly adjusted to account for ambient temperature changes. Upright freezers often have digital controls while chest models commonly have conventional dials, which can require a coin or screwdriver to adjust. Controls in upright freezers are often found on the front or inside of the compartment, which means you may need to move food to reach them. Chest freezer controls are often located low on the front or rear of the appliance. Check you can comfortably adjust the controls.
  • Liners: Some freezers come with thin aluminium liners. Look for heavy-duty liners that won’t easily dent.
  • Interior light: Lights are more common in upright models. Check the location of the light and how far it illuminates as food can block it.
  • Defrosting and draining water: Most chest freezers need regular defrosting otherwise ice can build up, stopping food from being chilled effectively. Defrosting requires you remove all the food, warm the freezer up, then drain off melted water. To make this easier, look for a model with a drain bung at the front and a spout to help minimise spills. The drain should be high enough for you to fit a container underneath.

Keeping cool

You can help your freezer manage temperature and save energy by placing it in an area with stable ambient temperatures (for example, out of the sun and away from draughts). It’s tempting to put a freezer in the garage, but large doors regularly opening and closing can result in large temperature changes occurring around it.

Noise

Like a fridge, a freezer is always running. This means a loud one can become a major annoyance.

We trawled through our test data and analysed noise readings for household appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Fridges and freezers were the quietest, with an average running noise of 35dBA. That’s almost as quiet as a whisper.

The decibel scale is logarithmic, not linear, this means a 30dBA freezer can sound twice as loud as a 20dBA model. Most people will only notice a difference of 3dBA or greater.

  • 35dBA – Fridges and freezers (equivalent to a whisper)
  • 48dBA – Dishwashers (equivalent to normal conversation)
  • 55dBA – Clothes dryers and dehumidifiers (equivalent to moderate rainfall)
  • 60dBA – Washing machines (equivalent to normal conversation/TV)
  • 70dBA – Vacuum cleaners (equivalent to a dull roar)

The design and layout of your home also affects how noisy you’ll find a freezer. Sound waves are dispersed by objects, which will muffle the sound. This means open-plan areas do little to minimise a freezer’s noise.

Our members often ask why our noise readings don’t match those stated by the manufacturer. The answer is they are measured in different conditions. When we test noise, we want our results to be directly comparable to other models we’ve tested. This means they’re all tested in the same lab and under the same conditions. This won’t be the same as how manufacturers measure noise.

We've tested 12 freezers.

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Buying second-hand

  • Stick to well-known brands under five years old, as newer models are more energy-efficient. They’re also easier to get parts for if anything needs fixing.
  • Check the lid or door seal is intact, in good condition and the door or lid shuts properly. Tip: use a torch to check the seals.
  • Make sure the door is hinged on the correct side for your kitchen (or is reversible).
  • Make sure the interior is in good condition and free from funny smells. Only buy if it looks tidy and well cared for.
  • If you buy a fridge or freezer from a second-hand dealer and then discover it’s faulty, you're covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. If you buy privately, you're not.
  • All electrical appliances for sale – whether new or second-hand, bought privately or from a dealer – must be safe.

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Energy rating labels

Image of energy rating label
Example energy rating label

The Energy Rating Label has a scale of stars to show how energy efficient a model is, compared to other models the same size/capacity. More stars = more energy efficient.

The energy consumption figure is in kWh and can be used to compare with any other fridge or freezer. You can use this figure and the kWh cost from your latest power bill to calculate how much this model will cost to run. The average cost of power for a kWh in New Zealand is 25¢. Lower kWh = cheaper to run.

The product’s annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh) is based on standards testing. Check the key assumptions used in this testing to make sure they match how you will use the product. Annual energy consumption for fridges, fridge-freezers and freezers assumes the appliance is on 24 hours a day. You should only compare star ratings of fridges or freezers with the same or similar capacities.

For information on energy ratings and how to use them, see our Energy Rating Labels explained article.